As we continue to learn more about Dylann Roof, we become even more disturbed. This young man was driven by a deeply-entrenched racial hatred. He was able to sit in a prayer meeting for almost an hour and look into the faces of those he would soon kill. He claims that he had a fleeting thought, while spending time with them in that prayer meeting, of not going through with his deed. Yet, as he stole their lives from them minutes later, the words he said made it clear that his heart was utterly wicked. The forgiveness offered by the family of his victims only makes his unrepentant hatred all the more wicked.
While we may console ourselves and say we would NEVER, EVER do such a heinous act as Dylann, Jesus tells us something very striking that nails each one of us in the heart. In Matthew 5, He essentially equates murder (what Dylann did) with anger and insults (what we do).
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
While we may feel justified in venting our anger at Dylann, Jesus would have us realize that when we are angry with others or feel compelled to throw insults (at least internally) at someone, we are demonstrating the same, exact heart attitude of Dylann. All we lack is follow-through on those heart attitudes.
So, you don’t think you have an anger/insult problem?
Is there someone that you are so upset at that every time you see them your heart races and your blood pressure goes up? Or, you give them the silent treatment? Or you slander them in the presence of others?
While we are justified in being repulsed at Dylann’s actions and while we should pray that he will receive justice to the full extent of the law (and while Christians should also pray that Dylann cries out for God’s forgiveness before it’s too late), we should realize that we, too, have a heart problem. We should take our feelings of hatred/insults as seriously as Jesus did, fall at the foot of the cross and cry out for forgiveness and release from that heart attitude.